Valium for Anxiety, Addiction, Side Effects, Risks & Treatment
What is Valium?
Valium, also known as diazepam, is a prescription drug used for anxiety treatment, muscle spasms, alcohol withdrawal, and as a sedative before surgery or to treat seizures. As a benzodiazepine medication, Valium suppresses excitability in the nervous system. It accomplishes this goal by affecting a brain chemical called gamma-aminobutyric acid (GABA), which binds to GABA receptors and regulates excitement .
Unfortunately, long-term use of Valium for anxiety disorder treatment, even with a prescription from a doctor, can lead to physical dependence on the drug and uncomfortable and potentially fatal Valium withdrawals when someone decides to quit using. This drug can lead to Valium addiction, especially when higher dosages are used. Moreover, mixing Valium and alcohol is dangerous because they can pose severe risks to the body. Someone with a history of alcoholism may be at risk of addiction to this drug.
It comes in 2 mg, 5 mg, or 10 mg oral tablets. The drug was first approved for use in the early 60s, is a central nervous system (brain and spinal cord) depressant with a half-life of nearly 48 hours. This means it takes a healthy adult about two days to process half a dose of Valium to half its concentration. As a result, a person can accumulate the drug in their system. Valium suppresses excitability in the nervous system so that users can get to sleep or stay asleep or go about their daily activities with less tension and stress. It can also be taken as a muscle relaxant.
How Valium Treats Anxiety Disorder
Valium is an FDA-approved prescription medication for anxiety. First, it was approved in 1963 under the name of Valium. In 1985, Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approved its generic form Diazepam. It is important to remember that Valium fits for short-term treatment only. Long-run treatment leads to Valium addiction and has no evidence of long-term use effectiveness .
How to get Valium for anxiety? It is a prescription-only medication. You should consult a doctor about taking Valium (diazepam) for anxiety. It is available in tablets, injection, oral solution, nasal spray, and rectal gel forms. When administered into a vein, the effect can be felt in less than five minutes. If taken by mouth, the effect can be felt in 15 minutes up to 1 hour.
How does Valium work to treat anxiety? Valium for anxiety works by affecting gamma-aminobutyric acid (GABA) and calming the brain and nerves. GABA is a chemical that suppresses nerve cells and blocks activity in the brain. The mechanism of Valium (diazepam) allows managing the symptoms of anxiety or related psychiatric abnormalities in adults. However, it does not fit every anxiety treatment. It is best to consult your doctor if Valium is a good treatment option for your anxiety disorder.
Why is Valium Used to Treat Anxiety?
Valium has been administered to people with panic disorder, an anxiety disorder that happens when someone has debilitating panic attacks. Valium and other medications in the benzodiazepines class are prescribed to help reduce the intensity of nervousness, panic attacks, and anxiety.
In general, benzodiazepines bind with the body’s gamma-Aminobutyric acid (GABA) receptors and increase the body’s natural GABA levels to help the person suffering from panic attacks relax. Keeping GABA levels higher can help a person avoid having a panic attack or other distressing episodes.
Valium is just one of several anti-anxiety medications used for the short-term treatment of anxiety disorders. Others include Ativan (lorazepam), Klonopin (clonazepam), and Xanax (alprazolam). Anxiety is a stress response that alerts us to things that need our attention or helps us protect ourselves from danger.
However, when someone’s stress response is not in proportion to the situation they encounter, or if the stress response makes it hard to move forward, they likely could be dealing with an anxiety disorder that needs medical treatment. Medications like Valium for anxiety treatment can help with this problem.
Studies have shown that Valium for anxiety treatment can be effective, but it may not be helpful for everyone. Some may need psychotherapy or a combination of both medications and psychotherapeutic options. Mental health disorders are complicated, and finding solutions often require medical and clinical expertise.
Side Effects of Valium for Anxiety
As a benzodiazepine, the most common Valium for anxiety side effects is sedation and drowsiness which is common for hypnotic sleep aid. However, when the drug is used to relieve anxiety, sleepiness can get in the way of everyday life. Other more severe side effects that can be caused by heavy doses of Valium for anxiety treatment are amnesia, confusion, and hangover-like symptoms.
Same as alcohol (alcohol blackout), Valium for anxiety treatment can cause anterograde amnesia, also called blacking out. This is when someone has memory gaps during the time they were on Valium. This is usually caused by high doses of the drug or mixing Valium and alcohol, or other drugs.
Valium is habit-forming, even for someone who uses them as prescribed, and abusing this drug can lead to a long-term, difficult-to-break addiction. Using the medication for prolonged periods can make someone think they cannot function normally without it.
If someone crushes up the pills to inject them or snort them to get high, or if they use Valium with other substances like alcohol, this is also a path to addiction. Such abuse is also dangerous to one’s life. If you or someone you know practices these habits, get professional substance abuse and addiction treatment right away.
Long-term use also increases someone’s tolerance of the drug If they do not feel immediate relief with their usual dosage, they may take more, which can lead to a fatal drug overdose, especially as Valium takes a long time to clear a person’s system.
Someone who is having a Valium overdose may have the following symptoms:
- Clammy or cold skin
- Nausea, vomiting, upset stomach
- Heavy or labored breathing
- Mental confusion
- Coordination and balance problems
- Muscle weakness
- Weak, slow pulse
- Blurred vision
- Bluish color to the lips, nails, skin
- Loss of consciousness
Valium overdose is a serious medical emergency that may lead to death. If you see any of the symptoms above, get medical help right away by calling 911 or taking the affected individual to a hospital.
How Long does Valium Take to Work for Anxiety?
The effects of Valium can last approximately four to five hours, with some exceptions. Since it has a very short onset of action, individuals can feel the effects of the oral dose within 15 minutes.
While the physiological effects of Valium last for about 5 hours, it can stay in your system for several days. Valium’s half-life is approximately 50 hours, which means that it takes around 50 hours for half of the original dose to be metabolized out of your system.
Since Valium has a tendency to accumulate in the body, whenever someone takes Valium for an extended period of time, it can take several weeks before the drug completely leaves their system.
As Diazepam (Valium) is metabolized, it is being broken down into metabolites, which can be detectable in the body for much longer periods than Diazepam itself. Some of these metabolites of Valium are nordiazepam, temazepam, and oxazepam. Half-lives of these metabolites can be very long. For instance, nordiazepam has a half-life of around 100 hours.
Long-Term Valium Use for Anxiety is Not Recommended
While anxiety disorders are amenable to short-term treatment with benzodiazepines such as Valium, they are not first-line treatments for anxiety disorders and are not effective for long-term treatment. Instead, there are other much more effective treatment options, including evidence-based psychotherapies, such as cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT), other non-pharmacological interventions, and medication management using serotonin antagonists, such as serotonin-specific reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs) or serotonin-norepinephrine reuptake inhibitors (SNRIs).
If you take Valium daily for an extended period, they stop working and can even worsen anxiety and insomnia. Most users become dependent on diazepam within even a month of use and experience withdrawal symptoms when they stop taking them leading to dependency.
When taken as directed, Valium for anxiety disorder treatment is typically more helpful than it is harmful. When people abuse this drug over the long term, they can develop:
- Persistent drowsiness
- Memory loss
- Blood in urine or stool
- Sleeping problems
Is Valium Good for Anxiety?
Diazepam (Valium) is suitable for short-term treatment of anxiety as the long-term use can lead to an overreliance on the drug leading to addiction- one of the reasons why to get Valium prescribed.
The patients with the following conditions should also not take the medicine until they consult with their medical doctors;
- A patient with other underlying health conditions such as liver problems or arteriosclerosis.
- A patient with an allergic reaction to Valium or any other medicine.
- A patient who has previously suffered from depression or has been rescued from suicide activity.
- A patient with some personality disorder is also not encouraged to start diazepam medication.
- A patient scheduled for a significant operation in the coming days should also avoid taking this medication.
To make the best use of this medicine, doctors may recommend combining other treatment options, such as the use of therapy to alleviate some side effects associated with the help of the drug.
Valium Dosage for Anxiety Attack
One of the most recommended ways of taking the medication includes the following:
- Diazepam (Valium) is administered orally in doses of 2 mg to 10 mg, which can be taken two to three times a day.
- Taking a daily dose of above 30 mg of Diazepam is not recommended and amounts to drug abuse.
Diazepam gets into the body through the gastrointestinal tract, with its active element being desmethyldiazepam.
Diazepam (Valium) may not be suitable for pregnant women with anxiety conditions as research has shown that the fetus can be affected by the side effects of Valium.
Long-term use of Valium for anxiety disorder treatment increases the risk for dependence. It also makes it likely that a nonmedical user will experience negative side effects. These side effects include muscle weakness, uncontrollable shaking, loss of control over body coordination, slowed heartbeat, and slowed breathing.
Once someone develops a dependence on Valium, his or her behavior is likely to change. These behavioral changes occur for several reasons. First, users who feel ashamed about their substance use might start behaving in a secretive manner, so nobody finds out they’re taking Valium.
Second, users who abuse Valium and other substances may start to have financial problems as they spend more and more money on the drug. Finally, Valium produces side effects that make it difficult to concentrate and remain productive; thus, some individuals who misuse Valium for anxiety disorder treatment start having problems at school or in the workplace.
Even if a user no longer wants to take Valium, it’s hard to stop because of the unpleasant withdrawal symptoms that are likely to occur. Thus, it’s important for Valium users to seek treatment from trusted professionals who can guide them through the withdrawal process. If someone is using Valium for anxiety that led to addiction, that person needs to consider inpatient detox. If you or a loved one is struggling with Valium addiction, We Level Up NJ addiction specialists are standing by to help.